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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who are you relying on?

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God.  Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start.  It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe – Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.  (Galations 3:25-27)
We arrive in style at our final destination in Christ – in an adult faith wardrobe.  In direct relationship with God, we are “more than washed up” for a fresh start.  We are completely transformed.  There is an exchange of character – although we may not immediately see the evidence of it in our daily lives, it has been accomplished.  Through our daily pursuit of his presence being cultivated in our lives, we come to recognize the changes already accomplished.  Paul describes our position in Christ as being in direct relationship with God - having no compromising or impairing element that would keep us apart from a holy God.  Close logical relationship because of the accomplished work of Christ in our lives – with no intervening agency needed.  In other words, the “rules” of the law were made void.

Let me show you the implications of this.  As long as the heir is a minor, he has no advantage over the slave.  Though legally he owns the entire inheritance, he is subject to tutors and administrators until whatever date the father has set for emancipation. That is the way it is with us:  When we were minors, we were just like slaves ordered around by simple instructions (the tutors and administrators of this world), with no say in the conduct of our lives. (Galations 4:1-3)

A tutor is charged with the guidance and instruction of another.  He has guardianship over that person – he’s responsible for the direct care of that individual.  It is important for us to recognize that as we go through life each and every day, we WILL be tutored by someone or something.  We can choose to be tutored by the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit, or we can embrace the tutelage of a rough and cruel world.  We are never free from influencing factors that affect our choices.  Those influencing factors affect our focus and ultimately, they challenge the integrity of our inner man (creating or filling the cracks or flaws in our inner man).

You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!”  Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child?  (Galations 4:5-7)

You can tell for sure that you are fully adopted – not just “sort of” in the family, but fully embraced as a member of the family with full rights to the inheritance of our Father.  By the privilege of intimate conversation, we can be assured of our new standing in Christ.  We have complete access, complete freedom, and complete transparency with a holy God – not just a system of works that appeases our conscience.  As I am writing these words this morning, I am listening to a worship CD.  The words of the song that are echoing deep in my heart are those of an everlasting love that draws, assures, brings rest, and gives ultimate fulfillment that is not to be found anywhere other than in quiet trusting relationship with our heavenly Father.

Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten.  They want to shut you out of the free world of God’s grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making them feel important.  (Galations 4:17)

All the world offers is a system of approval that is fleeting at best.  The next time that someone beats our time, improves upon our design, outdoes our profits, or any similar accomplishment, we are no longer standing as “approved” by the world's standards.  It amazes me how easily we follow worldly, self-seeking leaders, seeking their approval and direction, only to be disappointed in the end.  We have been provided one tutor – the Holy Spirit.  To turn to man for our approval or direction is to exclude God from his role.   The question I pose today is simple: What is your tutor teaching?  As you make daily decisions and face daily challenges, you will do well to subject the teaching to the Word, the wise counsel of mature believers, and the checks and balances of your conscience.

Anytime we try to do by our own effort what was fully accomplished by grace, we place ourselves in a position of bondage to the rules.  Paul wanted his readers to know that they can be free of this bondage.  Our trust in a finished work of Christ in us brings clarity of vision, centering of purpose, and deep, intimate fellowship with our God.